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Author Mark McCalleb Q&A

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Q. What inspired you to want to become a writer?

Growing up, I read a lot of comic books and watched a lot of TV – horror movies, action movies, cartoons, and mystery shows. I had a wild imagination. One year, my teacher gave us a writing assignment and I just ran with it. Story writing became easy for me because of my imagination.

What inspired you to write the book Social Distance? How did it come about?
A.The idea started as a documentary. Back in 1994, the local liquor store around the corner from where I grew up at in Chicago (the store on my book cover), was a popular spot. They sold cassettes and we all had sound systems in our cars at that time. Between that corner and the green line El station across the street, you saw a lot of homeless guys, asking for pocket change or opportunities to wash your car or do anything that they could get paid. On one of my visits to the store, one of the guys asked if he could wash my car. I had a 85′ Cadillac Sedan Deville at the time. I told him, “Sure”. So, I parked under the El station and hung out at the liquor store for a bit, looking through music. When I came back to my car, I was amazed. I had never seen it that clean before. A couple of my friends drove over and we started to talk to the homeless guys. And I posed the question to them, “How did your life get to this point?” And at the time, the answers were mindblowing. A lot of the guys were just regular, working class men who lost their jobs, their homes, and their families and at that time, I couldn’t imagine losing any of that and I definitely couldn’t see myself in that position. Two of the guys had degrees. Some of the guys had been out there for like 10 to 15 years. One of the guy’s (Gary) stories stuck out to me the most. In 2020, when the Covid pandemic started, it seemed like the rug was just snatched out from under everything and everyone all at the same time with little time to prepare for what was to come. People were losing their jobs, their homes, and in some households, they were losing their families. It wasn’t looking good. And the only thing that came to mind was the story that Gary told me 26 years ago. He’s deceased now. I thought of his struggles and his ambition to hold on to hope that his life wasn’t going to end like this. At that time, I had just started writing what was going to be my first book, “My Mischievous Childhood”, but Gary’s story sat heavily on my mind. So I started writing Social Distance. I didn’t know Gary personally, or all the aspects of his life, other than what he told me, so this is where my imagination activated. At the time, I didn’t have a title for the story. Everything that I had in mind was dated for 1994. As the pandemic progressed through the country and in all the major cities, the words, “Social Distance” were being stressed everywhere – at work, in stores, and at home. And then it hit me… I’ll modernize the story and make Covid part of the catalyst in his story, hence naming the story, “Social Distance.”

  1. Briefly tell us about Social Distance?
  2. Social Distance is about an everyday family man (Gary) who loses everything during the Covid pandemic and tackles the hardships of life along the way.
  3. When readers read your book, what would you like for them to take away?
    A.Readers will be able to relate to almost all of the characters in this story. The takeaway is that at any given time, this (Gary’s life) could be any one of us or our family members. Mental health is real. Let’s continue to support each other through those trying times.

Q. What words of encouragement would you share with those writers who are looking to become an author?

Stories come in all sorts of perspectives. There’s no such thing as a bad story. Self doubt can be a scary thing at times. Even the most successful authors have fears. I found that the best feeling of being an author is not the actual story, but the feeling of completing a story.

Where can people purchase your book?

Social Distance book 1 and 2 can be purchased on socialdistancemovement.com, or any website where books are sold.

Do you have any future projects you are working on?

My future project will be a tie-in story to Social Distance called, “Statewide: A Social Distance Story Book 1”, slated for a Fall 2024 release. My Mischievous Childhood will be released in 2025.

Do you have any social media links where people can get a hold of you?

People can reach me on all social media platforms by my name (Mark McCalleb) or on socialdistancemovement.com and join my mailing list.

Would you like to add anything that we haven’t talked about before we close the interview?

I’d like to send a big thank you to Aaron Robinson for giving me the opportunity to share Social Distance on Consciousness Magazine, and thank you to everyone that supported the Social Distance Movement. Hope to see you all soon!

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Last modified: February 19, 2024

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